Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Utah

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Admin. Code R501-12-4; R501-12-5

An individual or legally married couple age 21 or over may apply to be a foster parent.

Foster parents shall:

  • Be in good health and emotionally stable
  • Be able to provide for the physical, social, mental health, and emotional needs of the foster child
  • Be responsible persons who are age 21 or older
  • Provide documentation of legal residential status
  • Have the ability to help the foster child thrive
  • Not be dependent on foster care reimbursement for their own expenses, outside of those expenses directly associated with providing foster care services
  • Provide updated medical, social, financial, or other family information when requested by the Office of Licensing or licensed child-placing foster agency

Training Requirements

Citation: Admin. Code R501-12-5; R512-302-3

The applicant shall provide verification of the following:

  • Successful completion of agency-approved preservice training within the past 24 months
  • Current training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid

Child and Family Services or the contract provider shall provide the required preservice training after the provider has held an initial consultation with the individual or couple to clearly delineate duties of caregivers. The curriculum for preservice and inservice training shall be developed by the contract provider and approved by Child and Family Services according to Child and Family Services' contract with the provider.

Child and Family Services or the contract provider shall verify in writing a caregiver's completion of training required for licensure. Child and Family Services or the contract provider also shall verify in writing a caregiver's completion of supplemental training required for serving children with more difficult needs.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Admin. Code R501-12-6; R501-12-7; R501-12-11

All indoor and outdoor areas of the home shall be maintained to ensure a safe physical environment. The home and its contents shall be maintained in a clean and safe condition. The home shall have space or access to common areas for recreational activities.

The home shall be free from health and fire hazards. Each foster home shall have a working smoke detector on each floor and at least one approved fire extinguisher.

There shall be sufficient bedroom space to provide for the following:

  • Rooms are not shared by children of the opposite sex, except infants under age 2.
  • Children do not sleep in the parents' room, except infants under age 2.
  • Each child has his or her own bed adequate to the child's size.
  • A minimum of 40 square feet of space is provided for each child.
  • No more than four children are housed in a single bedroom.
  • Sleeping areas shall have a source of natural light.
  • Closet and dresser space shall be provided within the bedroom for the children's personal possessions and for a reasonable degree of privacy.

The home shall have a working refrigerator, cooking appliances, functional indoor plumbing, and telephone.

A foster parent shall not smoke any substance in the foster home or when a foster child is present. All smoking materials shall be inaccessible to foster children.

Firearms, ammunition, and other weapons shall be inaccessible to children. Hazardous materials shall be stored securely and remain locked when not in active use and closely monitored while in active use.

Foster parents shall comply with all laws regarding the care and number of animals on their property.

Drivers of vehicles carrying foster children shall have a valid driver's license and vehicle insurance. Transportation of foster children shall be provided in an enclosed, registered vehicle that has functional seatbelts and age-appropriate safety seats.

Approval Process

Citation: Admin. Code R501-12-4

At the time of application, each potential foster parent shall obtain a medical reference letter, completed by a licensed health-care professional that assesses the physical ability of the individual to be a foster parent. A psychological examination of a potential foster parent may be required by the office or the agency if there are questions regarding the individual's mental status, which may impair functioning as a foster parent.

The applicant shall submit the names of no more than four individuals, three not related and one related, who may be contacted for a reference. These individuals shall be knowledgeable of the ability of the potential foster parents to nurture children.

A criminal background screening must be successfully completed for all child foster care applicants and persons age 18 or older living in the home. The child abuse and neglect licensing database also shall be screened for all persons living in the home to see if a report of substantiated finding may pose a risk of harm to a foster child.

The home study shall include, but not be limited to the following:

  • Background and current information of each caregiver and family characteristics
  • Physical characteristics of the home, including neighborhood and school information
  • Assessment of informal and formal supports
  • Finances, including bankruptcies
  • Applicant strengths and weaknesses
  • Assessment of ability to actively engage in achieving the custodial agency's identified outcomes for foster children
  • Results of a check of the Utah Sex Offender Registry

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Ann. Code § 62A-2-120; Admin. Code R501-12-4

The application of a prospective foster parent shall not be approved if he or she has been convicted of a felony involving conduct that constitutes any of the following:

  • Child abuse
  • Commission of domestic violence in the presence of a child
  • Abuse or neglect of a child with a disability
  • Endangerment of a child
  • Murder, manslaughter, child abuse homicide, or homicide by assault
  • Kidnapping
  • A sexual offense
  • Sexual exploitation of a minor
  • Aggravated arson, burglary, or robbery
  • Domestic violence

A prospective foster parent shall not be approved if, within the previous 5 years, he or she has been convicted of a felony involving conduct that constitutes any of the following:

  • Aggravated assault, aggravated assault by a prisoner, or mayhem
  • A violation of the Controlled Substances Act, Drug Paraphernalia Act, Imitation Controlled Substances Act, Controlled Substance Precursor Act, or Clandestine Drug Lab Act

In addition, the office shall conduct the comprehensive review of an applicant€„¢s background check if the registry check indicates that the individual is listed in a child abuse and neglect registry of another State as having a substantiated or supported finding of a severe type of child abuse or neglect.

In regulation: The decision to approve or deny the applicant shall be made on the basis of facts, health and safety factors, and the professional judgment of the agency or the Office of Licensing.

No person may be denied a foster care license on the basis of race, color, or national origin of the person or the child.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Ann. Code § 62A-2-117.5; Admin. Code R501-12-15

In accordance with State and Federal law, the Division of Child and Family Services shall provide for licensure of a child's relative for foster or substitute care when the child is in the temporary custody or custody of the division. If it is determined that, under Federal law, allowance is made for an approval process requiring less than full foster parent licensure proceedings for a child's relative, the division shall establish an approval process to accomplish that purpose.

In regulation: An applicant may be licensed for the placement of a specific foster child or sibling group. The home study shall be conducted by an approved division kinship home study specialist or by the Office of Licensing.

A minimum of two reference letters received must be acceptable to the agency or the office. The home study safety inspection and background screening approvals shall be successfully completed prior to the placement of the child in the home.

A kinship or specific home license may not be utilized for the placement of any foster child other than the child designated on the license and may not be utilized for respite care. If a kinship or specific home desires to provide general foster care services, they will close their specific license and submit to the requirements of a general foster care license.

The office recognizes the importance of preserving family and cultural connections for children in foster care. In accordance with § 62A-2-117.5 and the Indian Child Welfare Act, the office may issue a waiver of any rule in regards to a kinship/specific home that does not impact the health and safety of the specific child or sibling group. This requires prior written approval by the director of the office.

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Ann. Code § 62A-4a-602

Beginning May 1, 2000, the division, as a licensed child-placing agency, may not place a child in foster care with any individual or individuals that would not be qualified for adoptive placement pursuant to the provisions of §§ 78B-6-117, 78B-6-102, and 78B-6-137.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 62A-4a-701; 62A-4a-710

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The State of Utah may request a home study report from another State or an Indian Tribe for purposes of assessing the safety and suitability of placing a child in a home outside of the jurisdiction of the State of Utah.

The State of Utah may not impose any restriction on the ability of a State agency administering, or supervising the administration of, a State program operated under a State plan approved under Section 42 U.S.C. 671 to contract with a private agency to conduct a home study.

When the State of Utah receives a home study report, the home study report shall be considered to meet all requirements imposed by the State of Utah for completion of a home study before a child is placed in a home, unless, within 14 days after the day on which the report is received, the State of Utah determines, based on grounds that are specific to the content of the report, that making a decision in reliance on the report would be contrary to the welfare of the child.

Links to Resources

Department of Human Services, Foster Care

Utah Foster Care Foundation

State regulations full text